STREAM

Cliff Dwelling Conservationists

By Pam Lazos

Frijoles Creek located in Frijoles Canyon, Bandelier National Monument, is about a 45-minute drive from Santa Fe, N.M. The Ancestral Pueblo people made their home near Frijoles Creek, a year-round flowing stream that provided water for drinking, cooking, bathing and agriculture.

The Ancestral Puebloans were drawn to Frijoles Canyon by its wealth of resources. Wildlife attracted to a water source within easy reach made for good hunting and the abundant plant life allowed for a diverse diet.

Without the tools and other structures which are the hallmark of the 21st century (indoor plumbing!), prehistoric dwellers depended on their immediate surroundings to meet their needs. The availability of water was imperative to the quality of ancient life, and Frijoles Creek, a permanent stream — in EPA’s regulatory parlance a “relatively permanent water” — in the arid Southwest was a gold mine of a find. The Ancient Puebloans recognized this and thanked their gods daily for its blessings.

Our bodies are composed of 70 percent water, which means we need it to survive. The average family of four uses about 400 gallons of water every day, approximately 70 percent of that indoors and most in the bathroom. A bathroom faucet puts out two gallons of water per minute, about 200 gallons a month if you brush with a wide-open tap. In industrialized nations, freshwater withdrawals have tripled over the last 50 years to keep up with our demand for food, goods, services, and hot showers. Compare the water usage of an industrialized nation to that of an ancient tribe and even accounting for population growth you have two entirely different scenarios.

The ancients knew the value of water conservation practices. The first inhabitants of Bandelier didn’t have dams or reservoirs, but they had Frijoles Creek. They conserved water by growing staples such as squash, beans, and corn in shallow basins or sloped terraces which minimized runoff, evaporation and subsurface drainage and maximized water efficiency.

Industrialized society has forgotten how to do this. The ease by which we acquire water has blinded us to its value. Out of necessity, the Ancestral Puebloans developed water conservation methods. Out of reverence for that which gives life to this planet, we would be wise to do the same.

About the Author: Pam Lazos works in Region 3’s Office of Regional Counsel chasing water scofflaws and enforcing the Clean Water Act. In her free time, when her family allows, she writes both fact and fiction, but mostly she likes to laugh.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Kids Have a Voice!

By Ameshia Cross

Growing up, I developed a love for news on paper, TV, and radio. I’d watch the morning news shows every day before heading off to school. My friends and family thought my love for journalism was a little strange for a teenager. But my interests opened many windows of opportunity, including serving as a communications intern for Al Gore’s Climate Project when was I was an undergraduate in college. Back when I was a teenager, I guess not as many kids were interested in journalism and the environment like I was, but I’m finding that there are plenty of kids today who are excited about these topics!

Here’s a recent example of kids combining journalism and environmental topics. At the Sixth Annual meeting for the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2010, Earth Echo International announced its first STREAM (STudents Reporting Environmental Action through Media) youth citizen journalist bureau. This bureau is located in the Gulf Region area including Louisiana and Alabama.

40 middle and high school students and their teachers from communities in Louisiana and Alabama received hands-on training and coaching from leading journalists and environmental experts, including Philippe Cousteau, Jr. The students were recruited because of their interest in broadcast and print journalism and the global environment. During their training workshop in December, the students wrote, produced, edited and filmed videos on environmental issues ranging from forest preservation to air and water issues. These students took their love of journalism and growing interest in working for a better environment to create products that instruct, inform, and put a youthful face to the growing challenges that face the world’s environment.

For all those kids out there who are wide-eyed and amazed by the exciting world of journalism and want to make the world a better place, don’t feel discouraged like I did when I was a teenager. There are programs out there for you. Youth have a voice and that voice is important. Environmental issues need attention and the drive and determination of young people can provide that.

About the author:  Ameshia Cross joined the EPA in December as a STEP intern in the Air and Radiation Division in Chicago. She has worked for numerous community organizations, holds seats on youth education boards, and is active in politics. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration with an emphasis on environmental policy and legislation.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.